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Being(s) together

Temporary Exhibition
5 May 2023 - 7 January 2024

In order to understand the world, we classify it according to hierarchies, both personal and collective and biological and cultural, which change depending on contexts and times.

Today more and more of us consider all living beings as partners of life on earth. Our closeness to other species does not only concern the biological aspects of existence, and we acknowledge that animals and plants possess characteristics once reputed to have been our exclusive privilege. When we wonder about our supposed superiority, it is always difficult to reconcile respect for animal and plant otherness with the transformations, domestications and predations for which we are responsible.

The realization that animals and plants communicate among themselves in a way which eludes us calls into question our capacity to really understand other ways of "being in the world", since in order to conceive of them we always refer back to our own experience. Thinking on interactions between the species is flourishing today: it is unifying the commitment of a large section of the population, benefiting from new scientific research and being fuelled by a demanding philosophical and ethical discussion. However, if we look at this closely, vernacular cultures all over the world, including in Europe, have always attached great importance to exchanges between humans, animals and plants.

That is why communication between the species occupies a prime place in our collective imaginary. Out of affinity, passion, profession or thirst for knowledge, stubborn humans have sought thousands of different ways to "translate" nature's signals. Each of these attempts works in its own way at bringing us closer to what is alien to us. Beyond difficulties and imperfections, this tenacity is our way of being together.

© MEG, J. Watts


© 2023 Musée d'ethnographie, Genève